$30 million for rental assistance approved – and expected to run out fast

By: - July 15, 2020 5:12 am

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The Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee approved transferring $30 million of federal coronavirus relief funds to a statewide rental assistance program, which is anticipated to be operational Monday.

Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine said the relief money will help Nevadans in need, but it won’t be enough.

“We’ve got a $30 million pool of money all around the state and we will need access to additional funding,” said Conine in an interview Tuesday afternoon. 

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced at the end of June he would gradually lift the eviction moratorium he put in place March 29. Evictions for nonpayment of rent, as of now, will resume Sept. 1. 

During Tuesday’s Interim Finance Committee meeting, officials weren’t sure how many households would be assisted through the statewide rental assistance program.

Steve Aichroth, the administrator for the Nevada Housing Division, noted it’s hard to estimate because there isn’t a cap on how much rental assistance a person could apply for through the program. 

“If we have to go back and provide three months of assistance at $1,000, that person could be getting $3,000,” he said. “The state of Alaska is doing a flat rate of $1,200 with $10 million of assistance so they know the math on that. We don’t have that number. We know the need is hugely dramatic and we’re going to do the best we can to get it out to folks.”

Applicants’ income can’t exceed 120 percent of medium area income, nor can they have more than $3,000 in a checking or savings account. If they are receiving $600 from unemployment benefits, which are expected to run out at the end of this month, that would also be considered.    

People who qualify will be able to apply for multiple months of unpaid rent. Once an application has been processed, the money will be given directly to landlords, which should take around 14 days.

The $30 million funding is split throughout Nevada with the Reno Housing Authority receiving $5 million, the Nevada Rural Housing Authority receiving $5 million and the remaining $20 million going to Clark County.  

In other places, rental assistance programs have dried up quickly. Houston allocated $15 million for rental assistance and received so many applications it ran out of assistance within two hours.

Conine didn’t anticipate the funding to be drained at that pace, but said the program, which is first-come first-served, would run out quickly. 

Aichroth told lawmakers Tuesday there is a clawback provision that could redirect unused funds among different parts of the state if needed. 

“If we need to relocate those funds based on lack of demand or overwhelming demand, we have that ability,” he said. 

Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe Moreno worried people without internet access or computer capabilities won’t be able to submit rental assistance applications. 

“There will be paper applications available at the different housing authorities, and we’re working with, in Clark County specifically, nonprofit partners to make sure they have the tools they need to serve their specific populations that are more likely to use pen and paper or call on the phone rather than fill it out online,” Conine said. “Will also have materials in English, Spanish and Tagalog.”

Nevada officials are counting on a new round of federal relief money to pass Congress and make its way to the states, but the timing and scope of additional legislation in Washington remains uncertain.

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.